The FBHVC monthly report

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The Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs represents our interests nationally, fighting for those who enjoy using their Classic Cars.

Robin Astle, our Club's FBHVC representative gives a monthly report on what's going on.

Robin Astle

June 2019

by Robin Astle.

From a Press Release and FBHVC Newsletter 2019 No. 2

Press Release

Police Clarify Their Stance on Historic Vehicle MOT Exemptions

Following a recent incident where the driver of an historic vehicle was erroneously given notice of intended prosecution by a police officer, The Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs (The Federation) has made efforts to avoid similar incidents by contacting the parties responsible seeking clarifications.

We have already made available to our members through the website ( a letter from the Department for Transport clarifying the position on exemptions, but it was still the case that enforcing officers had no access to a database of declarations by owners of VHIs as this data when supplied by owners is not recorded.

We therefore have sought and have just received assurances from Chief Constable Anthony Bangham, Lead on Roads Policing of the National Police Chiefs’ Council that they are in agreement with the Department for Transport’s letter of 11 January, which we shared with you earlier and now repeat.

Chief Constable Bangham has confirmed that police recognise that there is a presumption that where a vehicle meets the criteria as laid out by the Department of Transport (DfT) it does not require an MOT Certificate and any person using such a vehicle cannot commit an offence. Officers will not rely on declarations made at relicensing times to police this matter.

We are pleased now to provide this confirmation to all members. Our advice for anyone who remains concerned is simply to print a copy of the Department for Transport letter of 11 January and carry it with your other documents (as included with your March issue of Revcounter).

Legislation & Fuels by Bob Owen

Environmental Issues

London ULEZ

By the time you read this, the commencement of the London ULEZ will be upon us.

The Federation is conscious that a number of our members, perhaps particularly on two wheels, with vehicles which are more than thirty years old, and thus within the internationally recognised definition of a historic vehicle, but which do not yet qualify to be in the ‘historic’ taxation class, will not benefit from the exemption for historic vehicles which we managed to secure.

It is probably appropriate to remind readers of why the Federation considered it right to accept the views of Transport for London on how the ULEZ, and its exemptions, should be applied.

We need to recall that the (approximately) forty year old date of entry into the ‘historic’ taxation class is almost accidental, representing simply the date from which the Chancellor of the Exchequer decided the VED exemption would again start to roll forward, after a period when it did not do so.

On the other hand, we should recognise that our members benefit from the fact that the Government sets no technical or originality standards whatsoever for recognition of a vehicle as historic for tax purpose, something which is certainly not the case in some countries.

It was always the case that the London ULEZ was going to be enforced using ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition). That being the case it was likely that TfL would wish, for reasons of simple efficiency, to use the ‘historic’ taxation class, which the system can recognise from the DVLA database it accesses, as its historic vehicle exemption identifier.

The Federation considered that the most important aim was to secure an exemption for the greatest majority of our members, which might have been prejudiced by getting into discussions on what exactly was the definition of a historic vehicle. We thus accepted the use of the ‘historic’ taxation class.

And there is one more difficult matter I need to address. Much of our approach to Government and local Government departments across the board, on environmental matters, has to be based upon the argument that historic vehicles are no longer a ‘means of transportation’ as such. They are rarely on the roads, do limited mileage, and when in use the purpose is to move the vehicle itself, not the passengers or goods it carries, from place to place. Their contribution to pollution is minimal in the extreme. This does mean that, for newer but preserved vehicles, which would have to pay the charge but are only used occasionally, the burden would not be excessive.

I am afraid that does mean that the Federation cannot really support the use of vehicles claiming to be historic, if they are in fact in daily use as transportation. I know this will disappoint some members, but our position has to take account of the overall benefit to the majority of our members. On the other hand we will not actively discourage others to attempt to get any improvements to the ULEZ operation they might seek.

One good thing to report is that we have now been advised that the owners of overseas registered vehicles, over forty years old, will be able to exercise their ULEZ exemption through registration with TfL. The ULEZ website will identify the portal for registration. At the time of writing, TfL was not able to advise us what the detail process would be.

Rest of the UK

On the wider front, there are a number of other Low Emission or Clean Air Zones being developed around the Country. There are ongoing and intended consultations, but there is not, I think, anything which we need to raise in this Edition.

When we make responses to consultations we do put them up on the website, where you can see what we have said in each case. As we become aware that Zones are coming into force, we will of course make readers aware of this. I repeat my request that if readers become aware of local specific issues relevant to LEZs or CAZs, please do not hesitate to let me or Emma know.


We are quite frequently being asked by members taking their vehicles abroad, usually into the EU, where the various Low Emission/Clean Air Zones are.

The simple limitations of resource have meant we could only be marginally of use.

However, it is now becoming easier to identify the existence of LEZs and CAZs in Europe. The website is now sufficiently mature for us to recommend. It claims to identify all sites of urban traffic restrictions in Europe and a quick check appears to confirm the claim as it relates to the UK. I am not clear if it is always right on historic exemptions, but it is a good start and it will certainly contain more information than we have.



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